Q+A: Community Leaders on the Status and Progress of Zuza Epicenter in Mozambique

April 26, 2016

Megan Colnar, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at The Hunger Project, recently traveled to Zuza Epicenter in Mozambique. She witnessed how community members explore and participate in understanding data about their communities. These forums provide an opportunity for women and men to discuss the objectives and interests of their community. This is Part 3 of her series on community data presentations. Read Parts 1 and 2.


When I traveled to visit the Zuza Epicenter in Mozambique, I spoke with three individuals who were closely linked with the epicenter. I was able to learn why they joined The Hunger Project, thoughts regarding the study conducted, ideas for the future, as well as other information about daily life in Zuza. The responses were enlightening and significant as they emphasized the still existing challenges within the community and specific ways to confront these challenges to create effective change.

Rosita Mabunda, Epicenter Chairwoman, Zuza, October 2015 (3)

Rosita Mabunda, Epicenter Chairwoman


Rosita Mabunda, Epicenter Chairwoman

Rosita started with The Hunger Project in 2010 and was elected as Vice Chairperson of the epicenter committee. [1]

Why did you join The Hunger Project? I wanted to help develop Zuza—move us forward.

What are the biggest challenges facing Zuza? We don’t have electricity. Many things are dependent on electricity—businesses, the grain mill, lights for our homes.

What does empowerment mean to you? A person is happy with family, husband and children. She is making decisions together with her husband, as a partner.

In the community data discussion, you mentioned sharing responsibilities with your husband. Could you talk more about that? Sharing responsibilities is so important. After a long day at the farm, it’s nice to come home and see the house picked up, the bed made, and everything nice at the house. It’s nice to see my husband’s help.

What does it mean to you that you are chairwoman of Zuza epicenter? It makes me very happy and proud. I like that I can teach others, learn with them and lead them. I’m excited that I get to set an example for my community.

Today we discussed a lot of results from the recent study in Zuza epicenter. What do you think about the results you heard? The results seemed true to me. I agreed with the findings—even when I was surprised by some of the numbers. I learned much more than I expected. Now we know how to move forward to achieve the results we want.

What was one result you were particularly proud of? Our health results were very positive. I was happy to see this.

Zuza Epicenter, October 2015, Epicenter Water Point

Three young boys retrieve water from the water point at the Zuza Epicenter.

If you could share one message with our global family, what would it be? One day, Zuza will be full of potable water. As for me, I will work with The Hunger Project, with the government and with my fellow community members and together we will make it happen.






Lucas, Local Chief Representative

Lucas was sent by the local chief to represent his interests and thoughts in the community gathering. Lucas is a respected community elder who has also participated in microfinance trainings with The Hunger Project. [2]

Lucas, Village Elder, Zuza (Oct. 2015)

Lucas, Village Elder

How did you find today’s presentation and discussion? I liked it very much. We didn’t know where we were exactly [in terms of outcomes]. Now with this study and presentation we do.

Why is it important to know the results of the study and, as you say, “know where the community stands”? We need to know if we’re moving forward, if we’re on the right path. From today, we saw in some areas our community is progressing very well—like in health. But everything needs to grow together, we want all sectors to move forward.

During the presentation, one thing that was very obvious was the difference in perception of access to financial services (which participants thought was very high) and actual access to financial services (which the study showed us is very low). What do you make of this difference between the study findings and people’s perceptions? I think it must be that we all hoped it was higher—because access to banks is so important. The study results must be true though. Now that we know, we have the opportunity to focus on this and move forward.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Zuza epicenter? We lack electricity and a good road to our community.

Zuza Epicenter, Community Data Presentation, October 2015 (21)

Ismael, The Hunger Project Mozambique M&E officer, leads a community data presentation at the Zuza Epicenter

What can you do to confront this challenge?
I must be present in community meetings, especially those with the local government. During these meetings, I will press for solutions and a way forward.

Zuza is preparing to construct the epicenter building this year. Several other areas are also starting the same process. What would you want to share with these other communities preparing for construction? Please send wishes for hard work and lots of encouragement to us here in Zuza. We are sending the same back to you.

Is there anything else you want to share with our global family? Thank you for bringing the results back to us. We really appreciated the opportunity to discuss together. We really wanted to know where we are and now we do. We’ve been wanting to know for a long time.

Hortencia, Adult Literacy Professor

Hortencia, Adult Literacy Professor in Zuza, October 2015

Hortencia, Adult Literary Professor

Hortencia gave birth only one week before graciously offering to translate from the local language (Xichangana) to Portuguese for me! She’s been the literacy professor in Zuza epicenter since 2010.[3]

Why did you start with The Hunger Project? I had to stop my own studying for a lot of reasons and came back to Zuza to be near my family. When I returned here, I was sad to see so many people my age who couldn’t read, so I decided to do something about it.

Can you tell me a bit about the literacy classes? We have three classes each week from 2 to 4pm. Currently, my students are mostly women, whereas in 2010 I had more men enrolled. We’re starting to see more women know how to read and write. Among younger [generations], more girls may even be writing than boys.

Thanks so much for translating during the community data presentation. It made it so much easier for me to understand how things were progressing. What did you think of the presentation and conversation? It was great. I was able to see where my community is—where things are good and where they are bad. For instance, my community values health—it’s very important to us and we saw this in the results Knowing these results and having the study is so important for us.

Yes—the health results are really interesting, especially considering the new clinic at the epicenter site isn’t fully staffed and ready yet. What do you think will happen when this clinic opens? Is it still needed? It’s very much needed. The results were strong, but still have some way to go. This new clinic [points to the building nearby] will really help us, especially with those lagging results around HIV/AIDs knowledge and testing. I was sad to see these results. I really believe a lot in health and its importance in our lives. With a closer health center open, I’m confident we can continue to improve our community, especially changing HIV/AIDs prevalence here.

In the Community Data Presentation, people often mentioned the division of household chores as being an issue holding women back. What is your opinion on this issue? We still have a lot of work to do in this area [and also with income for women]. When the household chores come up, you shouldn’t divide them according to gender. I mean, everyone eats! We should all learn to cook.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing women in this community? Lack of education. Education is a light—a guide for the future. Everyone needs it. When you’re illiterate, you have a fear of standing up in front of others. You can’t help make decisions if you are afraid to stand up and speak.

If tomorrow you received a grant for a lot of money to use in Zuza, what would you do? I would open a secondary school.

As you know, we have other epicenters here in Mozambique, but also in other countries like Uganda and Malawi. In each of these 119 epicenters across the continent, there are adult literacy professors, just like you, working hard to improve their communities’ capacity for reading and writing every day. If you could send one message to all of them, what would you say? It’s not easy to work with adults. They bring all of their daily life struggles and problems to the classroom. It takes a lot to work with them and gain their trust—I know it’s not easy for you. So, have courage and faith. This work changes lives—it changes communities.

Zuza Epicenter, October 2015

Zuza Epicenter excited about their progress and future


[1] Interview live-translated in person from Xichangana to Portuguese and then to English
[2] Interview live-translated in person from Xichangana to Portuguese and then to English
[3] Interview delivered in Portuguese and then translated to English


Learn More:

Part 1: Closing the Loop: Engaging Communities in Data to Set Priorities and Track Progress 

Part 2: Transparency Boards: A Powerful Tool for Creating Accountability and Empowering Communities